Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 07/01/2023
This deal was played in the 2022 Soloway Knockout Teams.
At one table, North opened 1, South responded 1, North rebid 1NT and South was content to bid only 3NT (this seems rather pessimistic). A low spade was led and declarer took 12 top tricks for 690.
It was much more interesting at the other table, where South declared 6.
How should he play on a low spade lead? He took a chance that the opening leader had either spade honor. He played low from dummy and was disappointed when East won the J. (If West had the J and East the K, there would be 12 tricks. If West had both spade honors, there'd have been 13 tricks). Declarer won the trump return, drew trump and went with his original plan of taking another spade finesse; making 6. He actually ran all the winners first (including the A), but eventually shrugged (well, not really) and took the spade finesse late in the day.
An alternative of ruffing out the K would also have worked, but that would have been against the odds.
How would declarer play without the spade lead? On a heart lead, he'd get two for the price of one. He could try the Q and if that were covered, later take a spade finesse. This would fail only if East held both missing kings. On a minor-suit lead, declarer could also play for the two-fer. He could play the A and another heart to the queen. Or, on the actual layout, when West plays low on the second heart, declarer could change his mind and stick in dummy's 8. Later, he can try to ruff out the K (which works on this deal) and fall back on the spade finesse (or a squeeze).
What about if South declares 6NT? With a minor-suit lead, the way to try both chances is to start hearts with the 2 (don't cash the ace first). When the queen loses to the king, fall back on the spade finesse.
So many chances!